Making Breast Health A Mission: Edith Sanford Breast Center

Center aims to care for patients from prevention to diagnosis & treatment

“Edith Sanford was Denny Sanford’s mother.  She died of breast cancer when Denny was only four years old,” says Sanford Health Cancer Services Executive Director Sharon Hunt, standing next to a picture of Edith Sanford inside their 18th Street facility.

That tragic loss became a mission: that no other child should lose a parent to breast cancer.  So, Denny Sanford made a big donation.  $30 million and 85,000 square feet later, Sanford Health opened its Edith Sanford Breast Center last fall.

“The breast center is a place where we can provide care for breast patients all the way from prevention, to diagnosis to treatment,” Hunt explains.

Prevention efforts include yearly mammograms, usually starting at age 40.  The breast center allows Sanford to help more people get these screenings.

“It has given us the capability of adding capacity, so we were able to add another 3D mammography unit.  It really allows the radiologist to take a look at the breast layer by layer.  More and more we’re able to say ‘Yes this is something real, or, no this is fine and you’re good to go.'”

The Genomics Lab is one location where Sanford analyzes genetics to determine if a person is high risk for cancer and how to treat them.  The breast center is also home to a multi-disciplinary clinic.

“We can have a patient come in and they get to see specialists from all sorts of disciplines in our cancer team.  We have a breast surgeon, we have a medical oncologist, we have a radiation oncologist and they all see the patient at the same time,” says Hunt.

The full spectrum of breast health is included in the center and is still just a short walk away from radiation and chemotherapy in the same building.  There’s even special gift shop, Bloom, in the building where patients can buy jewelry and clothing, but it’s so much more than that.  People can also get wigs, bras and swimsuits after surgeries and treatments.

“It’s so nice for patients because they don’t feel like have to go out in public until they’re ready to so we’re here and cocooned and embracing them and they can come and get the support and tools that they need to again feel as normal as they can,” Hunt adds.

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